Agroscope, Institute for Plant Production Sciences IPS, 1260 Nyon, Switzerland

Wheat in feed for broilers

In order to gather data about the quality of wheat, especially for broiler feeding, a study covering the 1999 Swiss harvest was performed with the help of the major interested circles. Wheat quality data is essentially based on their baking ability, which criteria are used to classify the lots. Wheat of good baking quality in general is therefore judged to be also of good feeding value. Although this concept keeps its validity from the hygienic perspective, the energy and protein criteria are also for instance of great interest. The increase of the wheat ratio in broiler diets generates discussions and intensive research. Wheat is reproached to cause wet and sticky faeces with consequences of impaired hygienic conditions in the stalls, possible outbreaks of diseases and economic losses. The ME-content of wheat depends, among other factors, on the variety, its culture type and the place where it grows. The non starch polysaccharides (NSP), mainly in the shape of arabino-xylanes, seem to play a major role in broilers which digest them poorly; the NSP’s create a high viscosity of the intestinal content in young poultry, with the consequence of impaired nutrient absorption. The analysis of the NSP fraction being laborious and time-consuming, a method of approximation is proposed by the viscosity measurement in aqueous extracts. In the present study, 50 samples of the 1999 Swiss-harvest have been collected and analysed. The content of Clostridium perfringens in these wheat samples was also tested due to outbreaks of necrotic enteritis registered in broiler-farms in Switzerland. Only a more important study would allow to reach assured conclusions concerning the wheat quality based on its variety, its culture type and the growing area. The contamination of this cereal with Clostridium perfringens is frequent, but their numbers are low and are situated at the detection limit of the method.

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